Truth be told, I am usually not the best at predicting the Academy Awards. You’d think following the awards-sphere and making a point too watch and rewatch every last contender would give me a leg up, but in all honesty, it really just muddies the waters. I have “1917” being the film on top this year, but as I’ve followed the season, “Parasite” has been buzzing for months now. And originally heading into this season, I had thought “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” was the film to beat. Any of those things could happen, but I’m more inclined toward “1917” taking most of the major awards its nominated in. One exclusion to note is that I don’t have “The Irishman” winning anything, which is interesting and probably wrong, but what are you gonna do?

I have seen every film nominated this year, including the shorts, and the below predictions are a meld of what’s been winning, what I want to win, and what I think will win. There’s upsets every year and the pundits never get everything 100% right, so I try to mix up some of my picks with ones I prefer or ones where my gut tells me something different than what the experts are picking. These are my best guesses, so take them for what they’re worth. If you need a disclaimer, just know that I’ve never won my prediction ballot at work.

BEST PICTURE

“1917”

The big three are “1917,” “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” and “Parasite,” but I’m pretty sure it’s down to “1917” and “Parasite.” From what I’ve been reading, there is a strong contingent of “Parasite” supporters, so it will come as no surprise if it wins, but I believe “1917” to be the more memorable film of the year. It won across the board, from Golden Globes to the PGA and DGA, so it does have some groundswell headed into the awards.

NOMINEES
  • “Ford v Ferrari”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “Jojo Rabbit”
  • “Joker”
  • “Little Women”
  • “Marriage Story”
  • “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”
  • “Parasite”

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Joaquin Phoenix
“Joker”

Joaquin Phoenix seems pretty locked at this point. The only contender I imagine would even have a chance for an upset is Adam Driver from “Marriage Story.”

NOMINEES
  • Antonio Banderas — “Pain And Glory”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio — “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”
  • Adam Driver — “Marriage Story”
  • Jonathan Pryce — “The Two Popes”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Renée Zellweger
“Judy”

Renée Zellweger won across the board this awards season, so she’s pretty much locked as well. I couldn’t tell you who would upset, which leads me to believe she’s your winner.

NOMINEES
  • Cynthia Erivo — “Harriet”
  • Scarlett Johansson — “Marriage Story”
  • Saoirse Ronan — “Little Women”
  • Charlize Theron — “Bombshell”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Brad Pitt
“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”

Speaking of winning everything, Brad Pitt also swept this awards season. It’s his to lose at this point, but if there’s anyone that can upset it might be Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.” But the buzz for Pitt is very loud.

NOMINEES
  • Tom Hanks — “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”
  • Anthony Hopkins — “The Two Popes”
  • Al Pacino — “The Irishman”
  • Joe Pesci — “The Irishman”

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Laura Dern
“Marriage Story”

Laura Dern also swept this awards season, but I started seeing a shift away from her, at least from some of the ballots of Academy voters I came across. It’s probably too little, too late at this point, as she’ll like win, just for her likable status in Hollywood alone. But if there’s going to be an upset, it very well might be right here, with Scarlett Johansson swooping in. There’s also people behind Florence Pugh as a person and more for his role in “Midsommar.” Jennifer Lopez would have been a strong upset candidate as well, if she had made the nominee list.

NOMINEES
  • Kathy Bates — “Richard Jewell”
  • Scarlett Johansson — “Jojo Rabbit”
  • Florence Pugh — “Little Women”
  • Margot Robbie — “Bombshell”

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“Klaus”

It’s tough for me to not pick “Toy Story 4,” not because I particularly loved the film, but because it’s unwise to bet against Pixar in this category. However, “Klaus” cleaned house at the Annie Awards this year. Now, that’s people in the craft voting and this is a broader spectrum of voter, so chances are, this will be a win for “Toy Story 4,” but I took a shot on the more original film.

NOMINEES
  • “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
  • “I Lost My Body”
  • “Missing Link”
  • “Toy Story 4”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“1917”
Roger Deakins

This one seems as locked as locked can get and rightfully so. Deakins has a way with the camera and when you take into consideration the “gimmick” of this film, it makes you appreciate the man even more. He made this film special and no one else really accomplished that in this category.

NOMINEES
  • “The Irishman” — Rodrigo Prieto
  • “Joker” — Lawrence Sher
  • “The Lighthouse” — Jarin Blaschke
  • “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” — Robert Richardson

COSTUME DESIGN

“Little Women”
Jacqueline Durran

From what I was reading, there was little love for “Little Women” among the Academy. However, it’s usually unwise to vote against the period pieces in this category, especially with a big name like Jacqueline Durran attached. Upset candidates include “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” and even “Jojo Rabbit.”

NOMINEES
  • “The Irishman” — Christopher Peterson & Sandy Powell
  • “Jojo Rabbit” — Mayes C. Rubeo
  • “Joker” — Mark Bridges
  • “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” — Arianne Phillips

DIRECTING

Sam Mendes
“1917”

At this point, I think it’s down to Sam Mendes and Bong Joon-Ho. Now, Mendes could easily win here and “Parasite” could go on to win Best Picture, that’s definitely in the realm of possibilities. But Sam Mendes has been winning a lot heading here, including the DGA award, which is usually a fairly good indicator has to who will take home the prize. It will really come down to how much the Academy loved “Parasite,” but my guts telling me this is “1917” and Mendes’ night.

NOMINEES
  • Bong Joon-Ho — “Parasite”
  • Todd Phillips — “Joker”
  • Martin Scorsese — “The Irishman”
  • Quentin Tarantino — “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

“For Sama”

The consensus says “American Factory” will win this, if not for the quality of the documentary but because the Obama’s production company is attached to it. So politics. The people that aren’t behind “American Factory” seem to be backing “The Cave,” even though it and “For Sama” are of the same subject matter. However, I went with personal preference here, as I thought “For Sama” to be the more emotionally driven film. To muddy the waters more, I wouldn’t even count out “Honeyland,” since it showed up here and in Best International Feature, something that rarely happens and tells me it had enough support to pull that off.

NOMINEES
  • “American Factory”
  • “The Cave”
  • “The Edge Of Democracy”
  • “Honeyland”

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”

In my opinion, it’s between “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” and “St. Louis Superman,” because they are unique and uplifting, for the most part. “Learning,” however, is just different enough to stand out, especially with its title.

NOMINEES
  • “In The Absence”
  • “Life Overtakes Me”
  • “St. Louis Superman”
  • “Walk Run Cha-Cha”

FILM EDITING

“Ford v Ferrari”
Andrew Buckland & Michael McCusker

This is a category where I truly believe “Ford v Ferrari” deserves this win. None of the other films pull off anything anywhere near as captivating as it.

NOMINEES
  • “The Irishman” — Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Jojo Rabbit” — Tom Eagles
  • “Joker” — Jeff Groth
  • “Parasite” — Yang Jin-mo

INTERNATIONAL FILM

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Parasite” and South Korea have this one locked. There will be no surprises here or people will riot.

NOMINEES
  • “Corpus Christi” (Poland)
  • “Honeyland” (North Macedonia)
  • “Les Misérables” (France)
  • “Pain and Glory” (Spain)

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

“Bombshell”

This one’s a little tougher than I anticipated. “Bombshell” was winning throughout this awards season, but “Joker” and “Judy” seemed to have some support as well. I think “Bombshell” will ultimately win out, but again, upsets happen every year.

NOMINEES
  • “1917”
  • “Joker”
  • “Judy”
  • “Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil”

ORIGINAL SCORE

“Joker”
Hildur Guðnadóttir

Even if this wasn’t a front-runner heading into the season, I think people fell in love with Hildur Guðnadóttir and her score as the awards started getting handed out. And, not to take anything away from, but I think the Academy feels good voting for women when it’s a predominantly male driven category. I think they’ll rebel against the Newmans, Desplats, and Williams, who have been here so many times before. Plus, it’s just a stellar score.

NOMINEES
  • “1917” — Thomas Newman
  • “Little Women” — Alexandre Desplat
  • “Marriage Story” — Randy Newman
  • “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” — John Williams

ORIGINAL SONG

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”
Performed by Elton John & Taron Egerton

Personally, I don’t get it, but I’m not a huge Elton John fan, so perhaps it’s lost on me. I don’t find the “Rocketman” song to be particularly good and I wouldn’t vote for it but they’ve been winning all over the place and I think Elton’s too big of a star not to win it. I’ll be hoping for an upset here. None of the other songs really blew me away either, but I guess I’d rather see “Frozen II” win. The fact that Taron Egerton didn’t land a Best Leading Actor nomination could be all you need to see an upset brewing here.

NOMINEES
  • “I’m Standing With You” from “Breakthrough” (Performed by Chrissy Metz)
  • “Into The Unknown” from “Frozen II” (Performed by Idina Menzel)
  • “Stand Up” from “Harriet” (Performed by Cynthia Erivo)
  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4” (Performed by Randy Newman)

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”

What a stacked category this year. I really wanted to go “1917” here, just because of the sheer amount of production design that went into the “gimmick” of the film. But the fact that Taratino recreated so much of old Hollywood pushed me to lean toward “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.” Entire city blocks were set dressed for this film in a world where he could have probably just as easily added them in post. I also championed hard for “Parasite” to a nomination and building the house that the film takes place in is impressive, but the scale of these other two films is that much more impressive.

NOMINEES
  • “1917”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “Jojo Rabbit”
  • “Parasite”

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

“Hair Love”

“Hair Love” was one of the more accessible shorts this year and I think for that alone, it will win. The animation style is crisp, the story is a little cliche (Pixar-lite, if you will) but it still strikes a decent chord and I’d place it above all of it’s competitors. If there’s an upset, it might be “Kitbull.” It was on Disney Plus, so there’s a chance that it could have been seen by more voters.

NOMINEES
  • “Dcera (Daughter)”
  • “Kitbull”
  • “Memorable”
  • “Sister”

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

“Nefta Football Club”

“Nefta Football Club” was my personal favorite, just because it went somewhere I wasn’t expecting. There seems to be a strong following for “The Neighbors’ Window,” which I found dull. Personally, I’d put “Brotherhood” ahead of “The Neighbors’ Window” but perhaps the recognizable faces (and unfortunately, it being English) will sway people toward it instead of the ones I preferred.

NOMINEES
  • “Brotherhood”
  • “The Neighbors’ Window”
  • “Saria”
  • “A Sister”

SOUND EDITING

“1917”

The sound categories seem to be down to “1917” and “Ford v Ferrari.” Most years, if a film is nominated in both categories, they usually take both when they win, so the smarter bet here would have been to place all my chips on one, but instead, I split them on the elements I thought each film did better. Seeing as even the Academy is having troubles telling these categories apart, so much so that there’s a lobbying to combine them, chances are they both will go to one film.

NOMINEES
  • “Ford v Ferrari”
  • “Joker”
  • “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”
  • “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker”

SOUND MIXING

“Ford v Ferrari”

Read Sound Editing for more details, but it’s between “Ford v Ferrari” and “1917” here and I believe “Ford v Ferrari” to have the better mix.

NOMINEES
  • “1917”
  • “Ad Astra”
  • “Joker”
  • “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”

VISUAL EFFECTS

“1917”

Don’t get me wrong, “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Lion King” are probably bigger accomplishments when it comes to the sheer volume of visual effects. Those films wouldn’t exist without visual effects and there is something to be said for that. However, I believe “1917” has its visual effects merits as well. Also, I feel like the Academy has a predisposition toward certain films, specifically the superhero genre, and more of them will have probably seen “1917” over those other two films.

NOMINEES
  • “Avengers: Endgame”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “The Lion King”
  • “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

“Jojo Rabbit”
Taika Waititi

A few weeks ago, I would have told you “Little Women” was probably the front-runner here, with the Academy getting behind Greta Gerwig for missing out on Directing. But, not only did “Little Women” not quite live up to my expectations, “Jojo Rabbit” started winning where it counts, specifically the WGA Awards. It’s the more impressive screenplay of the year and this one I’m praying for the win.

NOMINEES
  • “The Irishman” — Steven Zaillian
  • “Joker” — Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
  • “Little Women” — Greta Gerwig
  • “The Two Popes” — Anthony McCarten

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”
Quentin Tarantino

My pick of “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” and Quentin Tarantino here is one I struggled with. On one hand, months ago, I believed “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” to be the film to beat this awards season. But then “Parasite” and “1917” took the ground running and completely hijacked the scene. I believe Best Original Screenplay be a linchpin of sorts for the entire Oscar night. My gut tells me “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” will win, because it’s a great screenplay and the Academy tends to love Taratino, however, if “Parasite” wins here, and it easily could, it will reveal how much the Academy loved “Parasite.” A win here could be the trajectory “Parasite” needs to end up winning Best Picture. I think the chances are much less, but if “1917” wins here, it will sweep the major awards. There’s still a part of me with fingers crossed for Rian Johnson and “Knives Out” because, personally, it’s my favorite of this lot.

NOMINEES
  • “1917” — Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
  • “Knives Out” — Rian Johnson
  • “Marriage Story”— Noah Baumbach
  • “Parasite” — Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-Won

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